|Tears For Fears - Everybody Loves a Happy Ending|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 14 September 2004|
Everybody Loves a Happy Ending marks the official reunification of Tears for Fears, however long it may last. Roland Orzabal has done the past few Tears for Fears albums essentially as solo projects, since Curt Smith left after touring in 1990, burnt out from the business side of the music industry. Each went on to rediscover themselves with various other projects, Orzabal spending much of his time in England and Smith in New York. Here the two are reunited on an album for the first time since 1989’s The Seeds of Love. It is nice to see them together again, but the results are mixed at best.
“Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” starts off the album in the way that has come to dominate Tears for Fears since the 1980s: that of a group mixing pop sounds with a jazzy, big band (a small big band) feeling. Ever since The Seeds of Love, there’s been a propensity to really change things up in the middle of songs. What it most reminds me of is late Beatles, especially Sgt. Pepper’s, with its use of horns and odd harmonies mixed with traditional pop. In fact, Orzabal opines that “this is the album that should have followed Seeds of Love in many ways.” This sounds evident throughout, both from the melodies and instrumental choices. “When we did ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love,’ we were doing Lennon,” adds Orzabal, “and I would say the main influence for this album was McCartney.” There are even Beatle-esque lyrics, with lines like “Porcelain portraits on silver medallions/Plasticine soldiers that march in battalions” that cannot but help to remind one of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
“Call Me Mellow” is far and away the best track: upbeat, catchy, with good verses and a chorus that uses effective use of backing vocals. It really is too bad that more of the songs are not like this and the poppy “Quiet Ones,” at least in terms of the verses and choruses not sounding too dissimilar. “Size of Sorrow” capitalizes on the fact that there are now two capable performers whose voices compliment each other. Smith has always had a smoother voice than Orzabal, though the latter’s has always been more distinctive and really has served as the true “voice” of the group over the past 20-plus years.
“Who Killed Tangerine?” smacks of Beatleness again, especially because of the choruses and the “Come Together” drums. This is a slightly spooky song that really picks up in the choruses before returning to a muted, low register sound. “The Devil” has some really funky electronic sounds with a piano providing main melodic backing. The harmonies that interrupt the melody now and then are sort of intoxicating in their own way, as is the overall simplicity of the initial arrangement.
The lyrics generally have to do with finding one’s own place in the world while acknowledging the whole impermanence of life and the need to do what’s important for one’s self before something sinister takes over. Clearly Smith and Orzabal have grown older and wiser, but while this updated effort does have its moments, it is trying too hard to recapture the past instead of looking forward.